Before crude oil and the combustion engine, the industrialized world relied on a different kind of power - the power of the horse. Horses in Society is the story of horse production in the United States, Britain, and Canada at the height of the species' usefulness, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century. Margaret E. Derry shows how horse breeding practices used during this period to heighten the value of the animals in the marketplace incorporated a intriguing cross section of influences, including Mendelism, eugenics, and Darwinism.
Derry elucidates the increasingly complex horse world by looking at the international trade in army horses, the regulations put in place by different countries to enforce better horse breeding, and general aspects of the dynamics of the horse market. Because it is a story of how certain groups attempted to control the market for horses, by protecting their breeding activities or 'patenting' their work, Horses in Society provides valuable background information to the rapidly developing present-day problem of biological ownership. Derry's fascinating study is also a story of the evolution of animal medicine and humanitarian movements, and of international relations, particularly between Canada and the United States.
“Horses in Society is a valuable contribution that will interest historians of science and technology, military historians, and anyone interested in the history of animals, economics or the nineteenth century in general.”
“Although draft animals have often been treated as footnotes to the rise of the machine, Margaret Derry demonstrates how a detailed treatment of horses can deepen the historical understanding of American and European societies.”
“This handsome book offers a telling glimpse into the often-charged world of horse breeding and horse trading in North America and Britain between 1800 and 1920.”
“An extremely valuable book that brings the history of science to bear on horse-breeding literature and sets both within the context of modern political economy.”
“A full and complex picture of horse culture.”
“Margaret E. Derry’s Horses in Society is a remarkably interesting read ... This is a ground-breaking work that will resonate with social, business, and military historians alike.”
“Horses in Society is a lucid and thoughtful journey into the world of the horse at its short-lived zenith, and of the society that honoured and sustained it.”